Tensions high as coalition talks tax reform

Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis emerged from morning talks with his coalition partners on the subject of proposed tax reforms giving every indication that tensions between the parties - in particular his Greens and Farmers Union (ZZS) party and the Unity party - are close to breaking point. 

Flanked by Edvards Smiltens of Unity and Raivis Dzintars of the National Alliance, a clearly less-than-happy Kucinskis said no formal agreement had been reached during the meeting and that Unity's ministers would not participate in a cabinet vote on the proposed reforms later in the day.

"Of course carrying out reforms is complicated, but we will not play these games," Kucinskis said, apparently in reference to Unity's stance.

Indeed, Smiltens' lengthy and repeated explanations of Unity's reservations about the reform plans did seem to veer towards pre-election rhetoric (local elections are due on June 3) several times, causing Kucinskis to shake his head and at one point, walk away.

"If you are building a house, you need a project... this is a project," said Smiltens, calling for a longer-term view of tax policy.

Kucinskis returned some moments later, repeating his warning that he was tired of playing games, but that he was "willing to wait until the Unity ministers have a mandate."

Dzintars stayed out of the firing line between the other two, saying the National Alliance was prepared to vote in favor of some proposed reforms but that more work was required on others.

"It's not on the agenda to talk about the stability of the government," Smiltens told reporters, now standing on his own after both colleagues deserted him.

Speaking earlier in the day on LTV, Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola expressed frustration with Unity's opposition to the reforms she has drawn up, describing it as "politically motivated".

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